I also attended tea parties a few times. A tea party is a very strange gathering. Usually, women gather together, but sometimes men and women sit together and chat over tea and light snacks. In the end, the talk was about things that were trendy in Schway. Events, rumors about other nobles or the royal family. Other than that, there wasn’t any topic, so I had nothing to say. It’s not like someone would talk about weapons or iron products they sell at the hardware store with me. Still, it helped me to gather information about what others were talking about. (Though everyone was so pretentious that it was hard to hear a talk as honest as when we were in Madame Shirka’s dressing room.)
Because of this, it was nice to see a familiar person. Hugo was one of those people. In addition, Hugo has Ethan Duplo attached to him. I wondered if Ethan is also working as the princess’s secretary.
Following Amy to the drawing room, I found Hugo with an unfamiliar woman talking to mother. I tilted my head and approached them. My mother saw me first and gestured. I lowered my head slightly towards Hugo and looked at the woman. The woman looked to be in her mid-to-late twenties; her attire was modest, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t formal for the occasion. Her black and brown hair was curled up around the back of her head and she had put on a decorative veil as if to show her status as a married woman. With the same blue eyes as Hugo, it was clear that she was related to him.
“This is Mrs. Bronson. It’s your first time meeting her, right?” Hugo said. “She is my sister,” he continued, blushing slightly to my puzzlement. It’s not uncommon for siblings to come together, so I greeted them normally.
“I’m Alice Warwick.”
“I’m Penelope Bronson. Hugo’s older sister. It’s an honor to meet you.”
Penelope had a gentle smile, similar to Hugo’s. People who smile like this are naturally familiar with smiling because they laugh often. However, the reasons for laughing often vary greatly from person to person. So, just because one smiles gently, it doesn’t mean they were all nice. Of course, I don’t think Hugo’s older sister will be like that. But she’s also Ethan Duplo’s older sister, so who knows which one she might take after?
“Shall we go to the drawing-room? Amy, bring us something to drink.” Amy disappeared quickly and Mrs. Bronson walked next to me.
“I’ve seen Marchioness a few times at gatherings, but you don’t come to Schway very often… so I think it’s been more than a year since I last saw her,” Mrs. Bronson said. Her sing-song voice was like that of a sparrow. I smiled.
“My parents prefer to stay in the estate. Does your husband live in Schway?” I asked.
“Yes, yes. My husband works for Lanson.”
To be called someone’s wife without a title means that she was married to a commoner. Even if she is the daughter of a duke, she would not have a title if she marries the second son of another family. The fact that her husband has a job means that he has no land to inherit. Perhaps it was the question she got often.
Without showing any hesitation, Bronson said with a smile, “My husband is the youngest son of Count Rishter. As a family with one daughter and three sons, they did not have enough wealth to give to the youngest. Our house also only has titles, but we don’t have a lot of wealth. My Father isn’t the kind of person who would share anything. Even so, my husband is very capable, so he worked for the Lanson Company from early on. We have a house in Teresa district.”
Hoo, if they were able to buy a house in Teresa district that means he made quite a lot of money. So he is a man who does his part brilliantly, even without a title. After sitting all the way around the drawing room, Hugo looked at me and said with an uncomfortable look.
“I should have told you in advance… My sister really wanted to come with me. After the royal party, she was curious about you. When I told her I was going to see Miss Alice… I couldn’t shake her off.”
It was not polite for two people to come without prior notice, but I can talk much less if there are three people. I smiled brightly. “It’s all right. I’m glad to see Mrs. Bronson, too.”
“Oh, please call me Penelope. I feel so old when you call me Mrs.”
“Then please also call me Alice.”
Hugo’s strength was that he doesn’t intervene and instead acts opportunistically, asking if he can also speak casually. He was just smiling, glad that his sister and I were talking comfortably.
“Actually, you are old sister. You’ve been married for ten years,” Hugo said modestly, but more playful than usual. Penelope glanced at her brother.
“Women don’t want to hear anyone talk about their age. If you want to get married, keep that in mind. Our family doesn’t have anything to offer besides a title, does it? I’m sure Alice already knows.”
“It’s okay. And don’t say there’s nothing for the Ayble to offer. There is Sir. Hugo,” Penelope laughed softly at my words. It wasn’t a ridiculing laugh, but a genuine one.
“Hugo is honestly not a child who is good with women,” she said. “Ethan is good to women, but since he is with the Princess now it doesn’t matter. I’m not saying this because I’m his sister, but Hugo is a very good kid, even though he’s clumsy.”
For a moment Penelope’s face flashed with a strange expression. She looked sad as if she remembered something she didn’t want to think of. But soon she shook her head and looked at me.
“Have you met Ethan? He makes any woman fall for him in no time. But he doesn’t have depth, so don’t fall for that.” Penelope laughed softly. I raised my eyebrows and lowered them. I shouldn’t gossip about him to his older sister, right? In particular, the story of how I almost left him without the ability to produce offspring… I have to move on.
“I saw him briefly at the royal party, but I…” I said, pondered for a while, “I honestly, I think Sir Hugo is better in every way.”
Hugo looked a little surprised at what I said.